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Smashburger pulls out of Derby and now Wichita

  • Published Tuesday, July 12, 2011, at 12:08 a.m.

When the Derby Smashburger closed in December, franchisee Ron Chaulk —who took over the restaurant in September — said he'd open a new location but not necessarily in Derby.

"We're definitely going to reopen," he said.

Instead, he closed his Wichita Smashburger near 35th and Woodlawn on Saturday.

"As you know, in December we evaluated a number of potential sites for relocation of the Derby store," spokeswoman Kelly Cooper said in an e-mail over the weekend. "However, based upon various factors, have now decided to also close the Woodlawn location in Wichita. We greatly appreciate the patronage of Wichita-area Smashburger customers and hope our guests will continue to visit our other Kansas locations in Manhattan, Lawrence, and Kansas City."

In December, Chaulk said he was happy with the Wichita Smashburger's performance.

Denver-based Smashburger opened a corporate restaurant in Wichita in late 2008. In 2009, the company hired Sullivan Higdon & Sink as its agency of record.

Smashburger acknowledged that the restaurant didn't open as strongly as it had in other markets and had more work to do to develop the brand here.

Then, in September, the company sold the two Wichita-area Smashburgers to Chaulk, a Wichita State University graduate who now lives in Kansas City.

"I have a little bit closer connection with the community and the city," Chaulk said at the time. "We both agreed that I might be able to have a little bit more luck getting things going in the right direction."

Chaulk couldn't be reached for comment on the closing.

Keep in touch

Former Twigs owners Iven Kelley and Jim Dobson left for their new home in Mexico on Monday, but they've created a blog to keep in touch with Wichitans and keep dispensing decorating advice.

"So many customers were asking Iven, 'What are we going to do when we have a decorating dilemma?' " Dobson says.

"It's just kind of, you know, an experimentation, and we'll see how it evolves."

Their blog, at girasolstyle.blogspot.com, is named for their home in San Miguel de Allende. Girasol is Spanish for sunflower.

"Of course, we're Kansas boys, and that's just our way of taking a little bit of Kansas with us," Dobson says.

He's "pretty much the home chef" and will be sharing entertaining ideas in addition to the decorating help.

Initially, the blog will focus on how Dobson and Kelley decorate their own home and how they entertain friends.

"There are so many wonderful characters in San Miguel," Dobson says.

Then, he and Kelley encourage Wichita friends and former customers to post questions and pictures of rooms that might need decorating help so they can share their advice from a distance.

"We're just absolutely excited about it."

You don't say

"Every day I get more and more requests for Wichita, so finally I just threw up my hands and said, 'I'm driving down there today!' "

Jeff Martin , who owns three Smallcakes , A Cupcakery , stores in the Kansas City area and was in Wichita on Monday working on an east-side lease

Got a hot tip or quirky story? Call Carrie Rengers at 316-268-6340 or e-mail crengers@wichitaeagle.com.

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